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How to safely stockpile your prescription medications - The Survival Prep Store

How to safely stockpile your prescription medications

Can you stockpile prescription drugs?

You can learn how to safely stockpile your prescription medications when you understand drug classification, schedules and the insurance system. It is possible to build a legitimate stockpiles of prescription medications for emergencies with a little planning.

Scroll down to watch a video about a pharmacists advice to stockpile!

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Is it illegal to stockpile prescription drugs?

Prescriptions medications for controlled substances fall under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This act separates all federally regulated substances into categories that are called schedules. States have the right to further restrict the use of medications.

Five Schedules Used for Controlled Substance Medications

According to the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), there are five schedules for drug classification. These are determined by the acceptable medical use of the drug and the potential for the drug to be abused or cause dependency. Brief rundown of the five schedules include:

  • Schedule I defines drugs not accepted for medical use, such as heroin. Marijuana (cannabis) is included in Schedule I, but some states have passed laws that approve it for medicinal use.
  • Schedule II defines drugs that have a high potential for abuse and dependency and are designated as dangerous.
  • Schedule III defines drugs with moderate to low potential for abuse and dependency.
  • Schedule IV defines drugs with low potential for abuse and dependency.
  • Schedule V defines drugs with a lower potential for abuse and dependency than Schedule IV.

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Why the Schedule Matters to Your Stockpile

The schedule your medication is under will determine how often your prescription can be refilled within a specific time frame. The U.S. DOJ and DEA notes that, "A prescription for a controlled substance may only be issued by a physician, dentist, podiatrist, veterinarian, mid-level practitioner, or other registered practitioner."

Some Prescription Medications Are Considered Non-Controlled

GoodRx says the prescriptions for various infections or chronic conditions are non-controlled medications. A few examples include medications for diabetes, asthma, blood pressure, cholesterol, and antibiotics.

woman reading medication

How do you store prescription drugs long term?

There are several things you can do to safely stockpile your prescription medications, especially when planning your survival supplies.

Can you get 90 day prescriptions?

  • Talk with your doctor about your wish to have a backup supply for emergencies. You may be able to get a 90-day prescription depending on which Schedule the drug is in.
  • You should keep your medicines organized in their appropriate bottles, so you readily know what they are and their proper dosage.
  • When you manage to stockpile your medications, you need to continually rotate your supply to ensure they haven't expired.
  • Mylar bags

How to Build-Up Your Prescription Medications

If your goal is to have a month of medications in reserve, you'll need to plan your refill dates. Some people aim for a six-week supply. The key to achieving these goals is to refill your prescriptions before it's time to refill them.

 How a Pharmacist Recommends You Stockpile Emergency Medication:

Prescriptions in Lower Classifications

This tactic only works for prescriptions that are in lower classifications defined by the five Schedules. You can find which schedule your medication is in by referring to the US Department of Justice (US DOJ) listing of all substances and their assigned Schedule number.

Early Refill of Prescriptions

Some people opt to refill their prescription a few days early each month. Typically, the earliest you can do this is seven days in advance of your current amount running out. In theory this practice means you can accumulate a one week's supply every month. The goal with this tactic is to have six weeks of medication stockpiled at the end of six months. Keep in mind that most medications have a set number of refills available within a specific timeframe.


Read :

Top 100 Things You Should Start Stocking Up On for When SHTF


Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

The early refill tactic seems like a good idea, but you should keep in mind that the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) tracks all refills. This electronic system is designed to alert the pharmacist of potential drug abuse. If you're regularly refilling your prescriptions a week before they're due, this system will alert your pharmacist as an indication of potential stockpiling. Again, it's best to discuss your desire to build-up an emergency reserve with your doctor and pharmacist.

How to Use Stockpiled Prescription Medications

If you manage to stockpile your medications, you need to make sure you don't allow them to expire before you use them. This will ensure your stockpile is always current. You need to rotate your prescriptions using a first in, first out method in the same way you would rotate food in an emergency pantry. This means you use the oldest ones first.

Request a 90-Day Prescription From Doctor

If you're working with insurance for your prescription medications, then you are limited by how often your insurance company allows refills. Some medications can be filled for 90-day supplies. Check with your doctor to see which of your medications can be prescribed for a 90-day supply. Of course, your co-pay expense will be three times more than what it is normally, since you're paying for a three-month-supply instead of just one month.

Request 30-Day Vacation Prescriptions

Some insurance companies will approve what is known as a vacation prescription or vacation override. This gives you a 30-day supply of your maintenance prescriptions. You should check with your insurance company to fully understand when you can request refills. Some insurance companies won't approve early prescription refills or more accurately pre-fills.

Bypassing Insurance Companies

If your insurance company won't approve an advance supply of your medications for emergency use, you may need to pay for your prescriptions without the insurance co-pay. This may be one way to have a small stockpile of medications for an emergency. You can discuss this strategy with your doctor and/or pharmacist.

Never Ration Your Prescription Medications

Some people attempt to stockpile their medications by skipping a day or two. This can be a very dangerous practice. The dosage of your medicine isn't happenchance, but a well-calculated dosage based on your physical condition. Skipping one or more dosages can possibly threaten your health. It's best to discuss with your doctor and try to find a solution for an emergency supply. The most you may be able to get is one week, but this would be a good buffer for an emergency.

pouring prescription medication into hand

Get Doctor-Approved Alternatives to a Stockpile

If you can't stockpile your prescriptions, you should consider alternative treatments that may be just as effective or at the least bridge the gap during an emergency until you once more have access to your regular medications.

Consult an Alternative Health Care Professional

You may want to make an appointment with a naturopath, herbalist or other alternative medical professional. Be upfront with them why you are seeking their help. Have a list of all your medications and see if they can offer you alternatives, such as herbal treatments and other alternative medicines that don't require prescriptions. Don't attempt to self-medicate since you don't know which prescription medications may interact with alternative ones.

Recommendations for Stockpile Alternatives

There are some herbs that may be of help, such as blood thinners, lowering blood pressure, reducing swelling, and joint pain, and even some that can help migraines. If you decide to stockpile these, make sure you discuss these with your doctor and don't take them with your current medications before checking with your doctor and/or pharmacist. Keep these as your backup. Make sure you rotate these out and don't keep ones that have expired to ensure you always have fresh ones on hand.

Finding Ways to Safely Stockpile Some Prescription Medications

There are legitimate ways you can stockpile some of your prescription medications. You can try a few of them and possibly stockpile a week or more of your medications to have on hand for an emergency.

How long after a medication expires is it still good?

It is always best to keep a stock of fresh medications. However, it may be important to understand the actual shelf life in the event you need to make a decision to use older medications during a crisis.

Cynthia Koelker, MD, author of Armageddon Medicine, wrote an outstanding reference article for the Journal of Civil Defense entitled, Expired Medications: What You Need to Know. She quotes The Medical Letter, Vol. 44, Issue 1142, October 28, 2002 which states “Many drugs stored under reasonable conditions retain 90% of their potency for at least 5 years after the expiration date on the label, and sometimes much longer.”

We should expect a gradual loss in potency over time. If the appearance and color of the pills have not changed the medication is likely safe to consume. Storage temperature and packaging will significantly affect the actual shelf life. Liquid preparations are not as stable as tablets and capsules and generally have a shorter, useable shelf-life.

Prepper Home Pharmacy: The Best Medications to Stockpile

A well-stocked prepper home pharmacy ensures that you will not need to run out to the store to purchase a medication when you are feeling under the weather or when it may not be safe to venture out. Consult your medical provider to determine exactly what medications you should keep in your prepper medicine cabinet.

What are the best medications to include in a well-stocked prepper home pharmacy? The best drugs to stock in your prepper medicine cabinet include a combination of over-the-counter and prescription meds. You should include pain relievers, antihistamines, anti-diarrheal, antiemetics, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and allergy medications. Be sure to include any prescription drugs that you are taking.

How Much Medication Should I Store for Emergencies?

When it comes to storing medications for emergencies it is impossible to come up with a “one-size-fits-all” answer to determine the right amount to store. Consider your worst case scenario and calculate the number of meds required to adequately take care of your needs, then stock a little extra to share.

While many medications are still good after the expiration date on the bottle, fresh is ideal. Therefore it is wise to only purchase drugs in reasonable quantities. Overstocking will likely result in waste and may not be the best use of your money.

We personally re-stock our supplies every couple of years and dispose of the old medication to ensure that we always have a fresh supply. We stock our little prepper pharmacy at a “worst-case-scenario-rate” and are very grateful they have not been needed.

It is reasonable to stock enough over-the-counter medications to last a year or two. Prescription medications are much more difficult to obtain and you may be lucky to have one or two months as a backup supply.

Plan for the Unique Needs of Family Members

Before stocking your prepper medicine cabinet, sit down and carefully evaluate the unique needs of each member of your family. Consider the following questions.

  • Does anyone in your family have allergies to any medications?
  • Do you need to store infant or child formulations of drugs?
  • Does anyone have special needs due to a chronic medical condition?
  • Does anyone suffer from seasonal allergies?
  • Does anyone have an issue with pain management?

Stock appropriately for the individuals who will be using the medications. Remember your supply is for your everyday needs, not just for an emergency.

Ideal Storage Conditions for Medication

Generally, medication will store best in a cool, dry, dark location in the original unopened packaging. The bathroom medicine cabinet is not the best place to store your meds due to the heat and humidity. Store all medication out of reach of children.

Drug addiction is a real concern in our society. Some addicts are easy to identify but others you may never suspect. Consider storing prescription medication in a locked safe or well-hidden location to protect both the drug seeker as well as your critical medications.

Actual Shelf-Life of Medication

It is always best to keep a stock of fresh medications. However, it may be important to understand the actual shelf life in the event you need to make a decision to use older medications during a crisis.

Cynthia Koelker, MD, author of Armageddon Medicine, wrote an outstanding reference article for the Journal of Civil Defense entitled, Expired Medications: What You Need to Know. She quotes The Medical Letter, Vol. 44, Issue 1142, October 28, 2002 which states “Many drugs stored under reasonable conditions retain 90% of their potency for at least 5 years after the expiration date on the label, and sometimes much longer.”

We should expect a gradual loss in potency over time. If the appearance and color of the pills have not changed the medication is likely safe to consume. Storage temperature and packaging will significantly affect the actual shelf life. Liquid preparations are not as stable as tablets and capsules and generally have a shorter, useable shelf-life.

Best Over-the-Counter Medications to Stockpile

It is easy and relatively inexpensive to stock your prepper medicine cabinet with useful over-the-counter medications. Carefully consider the needs of your family members and include the meds that you regularly use. This is the list of medications that we keep in our stash. Yours may be a bit different.

Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)

Ibuprofen is effective in treating both pain and inflammation. It is commonly used to relieve headaches, earaches, sore throats, sinus pain, muscle strains, menstrual cramps, arthritis pain, and back pain. It is an effective fever reducer.

Ibuprofen used in combination with acetaminophen (Tylenol), it is highly effective in relieving severe pain. Our son recently had his wisdom teeth removed and opted to control the pain with ibuprofen and acetaminophen at the recommendation of the dentist to avoid taking an addictive narcotic. It worked surprisingly well.

Naproxen (Aleve)

Naproxen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. It is effective in relieving pain, fever, and inflammation, similar to ibuprofen, but can last 12 hours. We stock naproxen because some of our family members prefer it.

Aspirin (Bayer, Ecotrin)

Aspirin is used to reduce fever, control pain and to reduce swelling and inflammation. It is used also used as a blood thinner in low doses to prevent heart attacks, stroke, and blood clots. Aspirin should not be given to children under 12 who have a fever due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Acetaminophen is the only OTC pain-reliever that is not an anti-inflammatory drug. It will not irritate the stomach like ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen. It is effective for both pain relief and fever reduction. We stock acetaminophen for family members that can’t take ibuprofen.

Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)

Diphenhydramine is an inexpensive antihistamine. It is commonly used to relieve symptoms from respiratory infections, hay fever, and allergies. It is also helpful for treating hives, itching, nausea, anxiety, and insomnia.

Loperamide (Imodium)

Loperamide is used to control diarrhea and relieve intestinal cramping. Diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration which makes this medication a good choice to keep in stock.

Polyethylene Glycol 3350 (MiraLAX)

Polyethylene Glycol 3350 is an osmotic laxative and is used as a stool softener and for relief of constipation. The stress and dietary changes resulting from a disaster often result in stomach and bowels issues.

Glycerin Suppositories

Glycerin suppositories can provide relief for constipation within minutes. It is a good back up to have in the event that the polyethylene does not work.

Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed)

Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant that is effective at temporarily relieving congestion of upper and lower respiratory tract. It is helpful for relieving symptoms associated with the common cold, flu, hay fever, allergies, and bronchitis.

This is an over-the-counter medication but you can only get products containing pseudoephedrine at the pharmacy. Quantities are strictly limited and you must present a photo ID. It is an ingredient used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine. You will need to stock up on this medication over time.

Fexofenadine Hydrochloride (Allegra)

Fexofenadine is an antihistamine and is commonly used to relieve allergy symptoms. It is often taken in combination with pseudoephedrine for increased relief of allergy symptoms.

Meclizine (Bonine, Dramamine)

Meclizine is an antiemetic drug. It relieves nausea, vomiting, motion sickness, and vertigo-like dizziness. It is helpful for anxiety and insomnia in some people.

Famotidine (Pepcid)

In late 2019, Zantac (ranitidine) was found to have a contaminant at levels slightly higher than naturally found in foods. It is NDMA, a nitrosamine compound that has been associated with some cancers. All Zantac was pulled from shelves. Click here for the FDA announcement.

The risk is probably very low but medical professionals are using Pepcid (famotidine) in place of the Zantac (ranitidine). It can be used for the treatment of heartburn, ulcers, reflux and may help relieve hives.

Hydrocortisone Cream 1%

Hydrocortisone cream comes in handy for treating inflamed and/or itchy rashes such as eczema, poison ivy, diaper rash, and minor genital irritations.

Bacitracin Ointment (Baciguent)

Bacitracin ointment is a first aid antibiotic ointment used to treat abrasions, lacerations, insect bites, or stings. It will not treat fungus or virus infections. It can be used to treat superficial bacterial skin infections such as a mildly infected wound or impetigo.

Clotrimazole (Gyne-Lotrimin)

Clotrimazole is a topical antifungal medication. It may be used to treat fungal and yeast infections such as female yeast infections, athlete’s foot, jock itch, ringworm, diaper rash, and skinfold irritations.

How to Stockpile Prescription Medications

It is possible that your supply of prescription medications may be interrupted when disaster strikes. If you are taking medications due to a chronic medical condition, it would be wise to plan in advance to take care of your needs.

The best option is to take the necessary steps to improve your health with the ultimate goal of reducing your dependence on prescription medications. In the meantime, build a supply with enough medication to see you through a crisis.

Methods for Stocking Up

Work with your medical provider and build a backup supply of critical prescription medications. Explain to him or her the reason you are concerned and see what options may be open to you. Be honest and always follow his or her recommendations. Make sure that you keep your supply rotated.

Medical providers will not give you any type of controlled substances (drugs that cause mental or physical dependence) for “emergency preparedness.” Don’t even bother asking. In this post, we are talking about medications for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, and heart disease.

Doctors are frequently given free samples of medications from the drug companies. If he or she provides you with a few samples, make sure that you keep filling your prescription on schedule. You can easily get a backup supply of 30-60 days this way.

Insurance companies will usually refill your prescription every 25 days. If you faithfully pick up your new prescription at 25 days, by the end of the year you will have a 60-day back up supply of your critical medications. If you use a mail-order pharmacy you may be able to get a 90 day supply of your medication. Be sure to refill it as early as allowable.

You can also ask your health care provider to give you a prescription for an extra month or two that you pay for in cash. This is one way you may be able to get around the limits enforced by your health insurance.

Stockpiling Antibiotics for Disaster Preparedness

The decision to store antibiotics should be carefully thought through. Antibiotics can only be legally used under the direction of a health care provider licensed to dispense the drug. They will not do anything to help a viral infection, but they can save lives.

We strongly encourage you not to use antibiotics except under the direction of a qualified health care provider. The antibiotics you stockpile are only for use when competent medical care is not available and you do not have other safe options available to you.

An illness must be accurately diagnosed and the correct antibiotic given in order for it to help the condition. Antibiotics have side effects which need to be carefully weighed before taking. The safest source for obtaining antibiotics is from your health care provider.

Prepper Antibiotics List

Cynthia Koelker, MD wrote an article for the Journal of Civil Defense entitled Seven Antibiotics to Stockpile and Why. In this article, she lists her top 3 antibiotics to store for a crisis where medical care is unavailable. The best antibiotics to store for emergency preparedness are Cephalexin, Ciprofloxacin, and Metronidazole. These 3 antibiotics will cover 90% of the common bacterial infections.

Cephalexin (Keflex)

Cephalexin treats most of the same bacteria that amoxicillin does, but it is stronger against Staph aureus. It is commonly used to treat upper respiratory infections, skin infections, ear infections, and urinary tract infections.

Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)

Ciprofloxacin is used for bacterial infections. It may be prescribed to treat anthrax, typhoid fever, abdominal infections, urinary tract infections, prostate infections, bone infections, pneumonia, and bronchitis.

Metronidazole (Flagyl)

Metronidazole treats very specific infections and is used to treat parasitic infections like Giardia in the small intestine, amebic dysentery, and amebic liver abscesses. It will also treat infections of the stomach, liver, skin, brain, respiratory tract, and vagina.

Cynthia J. Koelker, MD blogs at Armageddon Medicine and states that using these three alone or in combination would cover around 90% of the infections physicians commonly encounter, as well as several less-likely threats (including anthrax and C. diff).,link_opens_in_new_window%3Dtrue%22%3E%3C/iframe%3E

Specialty Drugs for Specific Risks

Depending on what your specific risk factors, you may have unique events that you are preparing for which require specialty drugs.

Potassium Iodide (KI)

Potassium iodide tablets are taken during a nuclear event to prevent the thyroid gland from absorbing radiation. This is a must-have for preppers who are preparing to survive a nuclear event. It has a long shelf life and should remain stable for many years if stored in a cool, dry, dark location in the original container.

Learn more about potassium iodide at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Oseltamvir (Tamiflu)

Oseltamvir is an anti-viral medication and requires a prescription. It is used to treat or prevent influenza. You may want to consider purchasing osetlamvir if you are prepping for a pandemic.

Zanamivir (Relenza)

Zanamivir is an anti-viral powder. It is inhaled orally. Zanamivir is used to both treat or prevent the flu and requires a prescription to purchase.

Consult your healthcare provider to assess the benefits, costs, and risks of stocking these anti-viral medications. They may or may not be right for you.

What Antibiotics Should I Stockpile?

Top 10 List of Common Infections Treated with Antibiotics

  1. Acne
  2. Bronchitis
  3. Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)
  4. Otitis Media (Ear Infection)
  5. Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s)
  6. Skin or Soft Tissue Infection
  7. Streptococcal Pharyngitis (Strep Throat)
  8. Traveler’s diarrhea
  9. Upper Respiratory Tract Infection
  10. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Top 10 List of Generic Antibiotics

  1. amoxicillin
  2. doxycycline
  3. cephalexin
  4. ciprofloxacin
  5. clindamycin
  6. metronidazole
  7. azithromycin
  8. sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim
  9. amoxicillin and clavulanate
  10. levofloxacin

Top 10 List of Brand Name Antibiotics

  1. Augmentin
  2. Flagyl, Flagyl ER
  3. Amoxil
  4. Cipro
  5. Keflex
  6. Bactrim, Bactrim DS
  7. Levaquin
  8. Zithromax
  9. Avelox
  10. Cleocin

Top 10 List of Antibiotic Classes (Types of Antibiotics)

  1. Penicillins
  2. Tetracyclines
  3. Cephalosporins
  4. Quinolones
  5. Lincomycins
  6. Macrolides
  7. Sulfonamides
  8. Glycopeptides
  9. Aminoglycosides
  10. Carbapenems

Most antibiotics fall into their individual antibiotic classes. An antibiotic class is a grouping of different drugs that have similar chemical and pharmacologic properties. Their chemical structures may look comparable, and drugs within the same class may kill the same or related bacteria.

However, it is important not to use an antibiotic for an infection unless your doctor specifically prescribes it, even if it's in the same class as another drug you were previously prescribed. Antibiotics are specific for the kind of bacteria they kill. Plus, you would need a full treatment regimen to effectively cure your infection, so don't use or give away leftover antibiotics.

1. Penicillins

Another name for this class is the "beta-lactam" antibiotics, referring to their structural formula. The penicillin class contains five groups of antibiotics: aminopenicillins, antipseudomonal penicillins, beta-lactamase inhibitors, natural penicillins, and the penicillinase resistant penicillins.

Common antibiotics in the penicillin class include:

Generic Brand Name Examples


amoxicillin and clavulanate Augmentin, Augmentin ES-600
ampicillin Unasyn
dicloxacillin N/A
oxacillin Bactocill
penicillin V potassium Penicillin VK

Certain penicillinase-resistant penicillins (such as oxacillin or dicloxacillin) are inherently resistant to certain beta-lactamase enzymes by themselves. Others, for example, amoxicillin or ampicillin have greater antibacterial activity when they are combined with a beta-lactamase inhibitor like clavulanate, sulbactam, or tazobactam.

View all penicillin drugs

2. Tetracyclines

Tetracyclines are broad-spectrum against many bacteria and treat conditions such as acne, urinary tract infections (UTIs), intestinal tract infections, eye infections, sexually transmitted diseases, periodontitis (gum disease), and other bacterial infections. The tetracycline class contains drugs such as:

Generic Brand Name Examples




Doryx, Doxy 100, Monodox, Oracea, Vibramycin
eravacycline Xerava
minocycline Amzeeq, Dynacin, Minocin, Minolira, Solodyn, Ximino, Zilxi




tetracycline  Achromycin V

View all tetracycline drugs

3. Cephalosporins

There are five generations of cephalosporins, with increasing expanded coverage across the class to include gram-negative infections. Newer generations with updated structures are developed to allow wider coverage of certain bacteria. Cephalosporins are bactericidal (kill bacteria) and work in a similar way as the penicillins.

Cephalosporins treat many types of infections, including strep throat, ear infections, urinary tract infections, skin infections, lung infections, and meningitis. Common medications in this class include:

Generic Brand Name Examples Generation
cefaclor N/A 2nd generation
cefadroxil Duricef 1st generation
cefdinir N/A 3rd generation
cephalexin Keflex 1st generation
cefprozil Cefzil 2nd generation
cefdinir N/A 3rd generation
cefepime Maxipime 4th generation
cefiderocol Fetroja 4th generation
cefotaxime N/A 3rd generation
cefotetan Cefotan 2nd generation
ceftaroline Teflaro 5th (next) generation
ceftazidime Avycaz, Fortaz, Tazicef 3rd generation
ceftriaxone N/A 3rd generation
cefuroxime Ceftin, Zinacef 2nd generation 

The fifth generation (or next generation) cephalosporin known as ceftaroline (Teflaro) is active against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Avycaz contains the the beta-lactamase inhibitor avibactam. 

View all cephalosporin drugs

4. Fluoroquinolones

The fluoroquinolones, also known as the quinolones, are a synthetic, bactericidal antibacterial class with a broad-spectrum of activity used in adults (not children). Due to risk of multiple serious side effects, the FDA has advised that they are not suitable for common infections such as sinusitis, bronchitis, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections. They should only be considered when treatment with other, less toxic antibiotics, has failed. Ask your doctor about the warnings associated with this class of drug before you take it.

The FDA has issued several strong warnings about this class due to potential disabling side effects. Learn More: FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA updates warnings for oral and injectable fluoroquinolone antibiotics due to disabling side effects

Common drugs in the fluoroquinolone class include:

Generic Brand Name Examples
ciprofloxacin Cipro, Cipro XR
delafloxacin Baxdela
levofloxacin N/A
moxifloxacin Avelox
gemifloxacin Factive

Several fluoroquinolones are also available in drop form to treat eye or ear infections.

View all fluoroquinolones drugs

5. Lincomycins

This class has activity against gram-positive aerobes and anaerobes (bacteria that can live without oxygen), as well as some gram-negative anaerobes.

The lincomycin derivatives may be used to treat serious infections like pelvic inflammatory disease, intra-abdominal infections, lower respiratory tract infections, and bone and joint infections. Some forms are also used topically on the skin to treat acne. A single-dose vaginal cream is also available to treat certain bacterial vaginal infections (bacterial vaginosis). These drugs include:

Generic Brand Name Examples
clindamycin Cleocin, Cleocin T, Clindets, Clindesse, Evoclin
lincomycin Lincocin

View all lincomycin drugs

6. Macrolides

The macrolides can be use to treat community-acquired pneumonia, pertussis (whooping cough), or for uncomplicated skin infections, among other susceptible infections. Ketolides are a newer generation of antibiotic developed to overcome macrolide bacterial resistance. Frequently prescribed macrolides are:

Generic Brand Name Examples
azithromycin Zithromax
clarithromycin Biaxin
erythromycin E.E.S., Ery-Tab, Eryc 
fidaxomicin (ketolide) Dificid

View all macrolide drugs

7. Sulfonamides

Sulfonamides are effective against some gram-positive and many gram-negative bacteria, but resistance is widespread. Uses for sulfonamides include urinary tract infections (UTIs), treatment or prevention of pneumocystis pneumonia, or ear infections (otitis media). Familiar names include:

Generic Brand Name Examples
sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim

Bactrim, Bactrim DSSeptra

sulfasalazine Azulfidine

View all sulfonamides drugs

8. Glycopeptide Antibiotics

Members of this group may be used for treating methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections, complicated skin infections, C. difficile-associated diarrhea, and enterococcal infections such as endocarditis which are resistant to beta-lactams and other antibiotics. Common drug names include:

Generic Brand Name Examples
dalbavancin Dalvance
oritavancin Orbactiv, Kimyrsa
telavancin Vibativ
vancomycin Firvanq, Vancocin

View all glycopeptide drugs

9. Aminoglycosides

Aminoglycosides inhibit bacterial synthesis by binding to the 30S ribosome and act rapidly as bactericidal antibiotics (killing the bacteria). These drugs are usually given intravenously (in a vein through a needle); inhaled and ophthalmic (eye) dose forms are also available. Examples in this class are:

Generic Brand Name Examples


Genoptic, Gentak
tobramycin Aktob, Kitabis Pak, TOBITobrex
amikacin Amikin, Arikayce

View all aminoglycoside drugs

10. Carbapenems

These injectable beta-lactam antibiotics have a wide spectrum of bacteria-killing power and may be used for moderate to life-threatening bacterial infections like stomach infections, pneumonias, kidney infections, multidrug-resistant hospital-acquired infections and many other types of serious bacterial illnesses. They are often saved for more serious infections or used as "last-line" agents to help prevent resistance. Members of this class include:

Generic Brand Name Examples
imipenem and cilastatin Primaxin, Recarbrio
meropenem Merrem Vabomere
ertapenem Invanz

Note: Recarbrio is a combination medicine that contains imipenem, cilastatin and the beta-lactamse inhibitor relebactam. Vabomere is a combination product that contains meropenem and the beta-lactamse inhibitor vaborbactam.

View all carbapenems drugs

Are There Any Over-the-Counter Antibiotics?

Over-the-counter (OTC) oral antibiotics are not approved in the U.S. A bacterial infection is best treated with a prescription antibiotic that is specific for the type of bacteria causing the infection. Using a specific antibiotic will increase the chances that the infection is cured and help to prevent antibiotic resistance. In addition, a lab culture may need to be performed to pinpoint the bacteria and to help select the best antibiotic. Taking the wrong antibiotic -- or not enough -- may worsen the infection and prevent the antibiotic from working the next time.

There are a few over-the-counter topical antibiotics that can be used on the skin. Some products treat or prevent minor cuts, scrapes or burns on the skin that may get infected with bacteria. These are available in creams, ointments, and even sprays.

Common OTC topical antibiotics:

  • Neosporin (bacitracin, neomycin, polymyxin B)
  • Polysporin (bacitracin, polymyxin B)
  • Triple antibiotic, generic (bacitracin, neomycin, polymyxin B)
  • Neosporin + Pain Relief Ointment (bacitracin, neomycin, polymyxin B, pramoxine)

There are some OTC antibacterials for treating acne, too. They contain the antibacterial benzoyl peroxide, which also has mild drying effect for acne. Many products are found on the pharmacy shelves as gels, lotions, solutions, foams, cleaning pads, and even facial scrubs.

Antibiotic Shortages: A Serious Safety Concern

Medically reviewed by L. Anderson, PharmD.

Antibiotic Shortages in the US

Shortages of antibiotics in the U.S. has dominated the headlines in recent years. In fact, according to experts, antibiotics are being removed from the market six times faster than new ones are being produced. Between 2001 and 2013, there were shortages of 148 antibiotics. This is of great concern to the FDA and the healthcare community as many of these antibiotics were the sole drugs to treat certain antibiotic-resistant infections or for certain infectious conditions in children. Many life-threatening infections can be picked up from being in the hospital (nosocomial infection), outpatient surgery or doctor’s office.

In a 2015 study done at George Washington University, nearly half the shortages were for antibiotics needed to treat severe infections, including Clostridium difficile, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, among others. MRSA is an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that infects some 78,000 people a year and can be deadly, according to the CDC.

Even common therapies, like aztreonam used to treat serious infections in patients allergic to penicillin, and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, used to treat pneumocystis pneumonia, were in short supply with no alternate manufacturers. Manufacturing site problems, shortage of raw material, low commercial incentive, and lack of approved manufacturers all can lead to drug shortages. Researchers contend that shortages will continue and that the U.S. government and FDA need to be involved to ensure adequate supplies of life-saving antibiotics.

However, FDA officials are working closely with industry, health care providers and patients. to take action against drug shortages. Although manufacturers are not required to notify the FDA of drug shortages, when they do, the FDA can work with other firms to determine if the drug can be made. The FDA has the ability to expedite inspections and approvals to help lessen the impact of a drug shortage, including antibiotics.

Current Drug Shortages

Drug shortages can have a significant impact on patient care and public health. Drugs in short supply often include sterile injectables and potentially life-saving oncology (cancer) treatments. Besides the lack of effective drug treatment, many other areas of medical care can be impacted, including medical procedure delays, treatment protocol delays, rates of medication errors, patient health outcomes, and cost. Notice from manufacturers to the FDA about impending or current drug shortages allows the FDA to work with the manufacturers to prevent a drastic shortage.

Updated May 31, 2022.


Generic Name Revision Date
0.9% Sodium Chloride 10 mL, 20 mL, and 50 mL Preservative Free Vials and Syringes February 1, 2022
0.9% Sodium Chloride Flush Syringes April 4, 2022
0.9% Sodium Chloride Irrigation March 29, 2022
0.9% Sodium Chloride Large Volume Bags March 29, 2022
0.9% Sodium Chloride Small Volume Bags (< 150 mL) March 29, 2022
10% Dextrose Injection March 29, 2022
14.6% Sodium Chloride Concentrated Solution for Injection May 26, 2022
23.4% Sodium Chloride Injection May 19, 2022
25% Dextrose Injection April 11, 2022
5% Dextrose Injection (PVC-free and DEHP-free) April 28, 2022
5% Dextrose Injection Large Volume Bags March 29, 2022
5% Dextrose Injection Small Volume Bags March 29, 2022
5% Lidocaine and 7.5% Dextrose Injection May 19, 2022
50% Dextrose Injection April 25, 2022
Acetylcysteine Oral and Inhalation Solution May 9, 2022
Acyclovir Injection May 3, 2022
Albuterol Inhalation Solution May 19, 2022
Albuterol Sulfate Metered Dose Inhalers December 15, 2021
Alfentanil Injection April 26, 2022
Alteplase Injection January 11, 2022
Amifostine Injection March 23, 2022
Amino Acid Products March 30, 2022
Aminocaproic Acid Injection May 27, 2022
Aminophylline Injection April 19, 2022
Amiodarone Injection May 3, 2022
Ammonia Inhalant February 11, 2022
Amphetamine Mixed Salts, Immediate-Release Tablets March 10, 2022
Amphotericin B Injection May 4, 2022
Ampicillin Sodium and Sulbactam Sodium Injection April 25, 2022
Amyl Nitrite Inhalation April 21, 2022
Argatroban Injection April 27, 2022
Artesunate Injection November 5, 2021
Asparaginase Erwinia chrysanthemi March 31, 2022
Aspirin Suppositories March 17, 2022
Atracurium Injection May 4, 2022
Atropine Sulfate Injection April 28, 2022
Azacitidine Injection May 5, 2022
Bacitracin Ophthalmic Ointment April 22, 2022
Bacteriostatic 0.9% Sodium Chloride Vials May 19, 2022
Bacteriostatic Water for Injection May 19, 2022
BCG Live Intravesical March 10, 2022
Becaplermin Topical Gel April 26, 2022
Belladonna and Opium Suppositories January 31, 2022
Benzoin Tincture November 23, 2021
Betamethasone Acetate/Betamethasone Sodium Phosphate Suspension for Injection March 28, 2022
Bumetanide Injection May 3, 2022
Bupivacaine Injection May 3, 2022
Bupivacaine with Epinephrine Injection May 3, 2022
Busulfan Injection April 19, 2022
Cabergoline Tablets March 31, 2022
Calcium Acetate Oral Capsules and Tablets April 26, 2022
Calcium Chloride Injection May 3, 2022
Calcium Disodium Versenate Injection May 15, 2022
Calcium Gluconate Injection May 10, 2022
Carisoprodol Tablets March 31, 2022
Cefazolin Injection May 10, 2022
Cefepime Injection May 10, 2022
Cefixime Capsules May 13, 2022
Cefotaxime Sodium Injection February 18, 2022
Cefotetan Disodium Injection November 15, 2021
Ceftazidime Injection April 12, 2022
Ceftolozane and Tazobactam Injection January 6, 2022
Cefuroxime Sodium Injection May 24, 2022
Chlordiazepoxide Capsules May 21, 2022
Chloroprocaine Hydrochloride Injection April 12, 2022
Ciprofloxacin Ophthalmic Solution May 28, 2022
Cisatracurium Besylate Injection May 4, 2022
Clindamycin Phosphate Injection May 5, 2022
Clotrimazole Lozenges (Clotrimazole Troches) April 12, 2022
Colestipol Oral Tablets March 31, 2022
Conivaptan Hydrochloride Injection March 4, 2022
Conjugated Estrogens and Bazedoxifene March 10, 2022
Corticorelin Ovine Triflutate Injection November 2, 2020
Cosyntropin Injection March 23, 2022
Cyclopentolate and Phenylephrine Ophthalmic Solution February 11, 2022
Cyclopentolate and Phenylephrine Ophthalmic Solution February 23, 2022
Cyclopentolate Hydrochloride Ophthalmic Solution May 28, 2022
Cytarabine Injection March 21, 2022
Dacarbazine Injection May 5, 2022
Dalfopristin and Quinupristin Injection April 8, 2022
Dantrolene Sodium Injection May 28, 2022
Desiccated Thyroid Tablets March 23, 2022
Desmopressin Acetate Nasal Spray March 23, 2022
Dexamethasone Sodium Phosphate Injection May 5, 2022
Dexmedetomidine Hydrochloride 100 mcg/mL Vials for Injection March 15, 2022
Dextran Low Molecular Weight (Dextran 40), 10% Injection January 27, 2022
Dextrose Oral Gel May 6, 2022
Diazepam Oral Solution March 30, 2022
Diazepam Rectal Gel May 25, 2022
Dicloxacillin Sodium Capsules May 10, 2022
Dicyclomine Oral Presentations May 24, 2022
Digoxin Injection May 3, 2022
Diltiazem Hydrochloride Injection May 10, 2022
Diphenhydramine Injection April 14, 2022
Disopyramide Phosphate Controlled-Release Capsules January 28, 2022
Dobutamine Injection May 10, 2022
Dopamine Hydrochloride Injection May 26, 2022
Doxercalciferol Capsules April 28, 2022
Doxorubicin Injection April 13, 2022
Doxycycline Oral Suspension March 30, 2022
Droperidol Injection April 13, 2022
Enoxaparin Sodium Injection December 20, 2021
Epinephrine Auto-Injectors May 18, 2022
Epinephrine Injection March 30, 2022
Epoprostenol Injection May 20, 2022
Eptifibatide Injection March 24, 2022
Esmolol Injection May 28, 2022
Estradiol Cypionate Injection May 27, 2022
Ethambutol Tablets May 9, 2022
Exactamix 2400 Valve Set May 3, 2022
Famotidine Injection May 3, 2022
Famotidine Tablets May 20, 2022
Fat Emulsion May 3, 2022
Fentanyl Citrate Injection May 26, 2022
Floxuridine Injection May 26, 2022
Fludarabine Injection April 20, 2022
Flumazenil Injection May 3, 2022
Fluorescein Sodium and Proparacaine Hydrochloride Ophthalmic Solution May 28, 2022
Fluorometholone Ophthalmic Ointment March 28, 2022
Folic Acid Injection March 23, 2022
Fosphenytoin Sodium Injection April 25, 2022
Furosemide Injection May 26, 2022
Gemifloxacin Mesylate Tablets March 29, 2022
Gentamicin Injection May 26, 2022
Gentamicin Sulfate Ophthalmic Ointment March 15, 2022
Guanfacine Hydrochloride Tablets May 20, 2022
Haloperidol Lactate Injection May 27, 2022
Heparin Injection May 23, 2022
Heparin Lock Flush April 11, 2022
Heparin Sodium Premixed Bags May 26, 2022
Hepatitis B Vaccine (Recombinant) March 30, 2022
Hydralazine injection May 3, 2022
Hydromorphone Hydrochloride Injection April 13, 2022
Hydroxocobalamin Injection January 27, 2022
Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate Tablets March 31, 2022
Hydroxyzine Pamoate Oral Capsules January 4, 2022
Hypromellose Ophthalmic Solution March 31, 2022
Ibutilide Fumarate Injection May 5, 2022
Immune Globulin, Intravenous or Subcutaneous (Human) March 4, 2022
Indigo Carmine Injection May 5, 2022
Insulin Aspart Injection January 5, 2022
Insulin Detemir Injection January 5, 2022
Interferon alfa-2b Injection January 10, 2022
Iodixanol Injection May 12, 2022
Iohexol Injection May 26, 2022
Iopamidol Injection May 26, 2022
Iopromide Injection May 12, 2022
Iothalamate Meglumine Injection May 11, 2022
Ioversol Injection May 12, 2022
Irbesartan Tablets March 23, 2022
Iron Dextran Injection May 6, 2022
Ketamine Injection April 13, 2022
Ketorolac Injection May 5, 2022
Labetalol Injection January 19, 2022
Labetalol Tablets May 16, 2022
Lactated Ringer's Injection May 27, 2022
Leucovorin Calcium Injection May 19, 2022
Leuprolide Acetate Long-Acting Suspension for Intramuscular Injection May 4, 2022
Levetiracetam Extended-Release Tablets January 10, 2022
Levetiracetam Immediate-Release Tablets April 15, 2022
Levetiracetam Injection May 10, 2022
Levoleucovorin Injection May 24, 2022
Levothyroxine Sodium Injection May 19, 2022
Lidocaine Injection March 29, 2022
Lidocaine with Epinephrine Injection May 4, 2022
Lisinopril Tablets March 23, 2022
Lithium Oral Solution May 4, 2022
Lorazepam Injection March 21, 2022
Lorazepam Tablets May 12, 2022
Losartan and Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets May 17, 2022
Losartan Tablets April 30, 2022
Loxapine Tablets April 21, 2022
Lutetium Lu 177 Dotatate Injection May 5, 2022
Magnesium Sulfate Injection May 24, 2022
Mannitol Injection March 7, 2022
Melphalan Injection May 5, 2022
Mepivacaine Injection May 16, 2022
Methenamine Hippurate Tablets May 4, 2022
Methohexital Injection November 3, 2021
Methotrexate Injection December 1, 2021
Methylprednisolone Acetate Injection March 31, 2022
Metoclopramide Injection February 28, 2022
Metoprolol Injection May 16, 2022
Metronidazole Hydrochloride Injection May 16, 2022
Midazolam Injection April 19, 2022
Mineral Oil and Petrolatum Ophthalmic Ointment November 5, 2021
Misoprostol Tablets March 31, 2022
Morphine Injection April 19, 2022
Morphine PCA Vials March 14, 2020
Multiple Electrolytes Large Volume Solutions for Injection May 4, 2022
Multiple Vitamins for Infusion April 19, 2022
Mycophenolate Mofetil Capsules and Tablets May 23, 2022
Mycophenolate Sodium Delayed-Release Tablets December 16, 2020
Nefazodone Tablets January 26, 2022
Neomycin and Polymyxin B Sulfates and Dexamethasone Ophthalmic Ointment March 30, 2022
Neomycin and Polymyxin B Sulfates Genitourinary Irrigant March 30, 2022
Neomycin Sulfate Tablets May 15, 2022
Nitrofurantoin Oral Suspension May 15, 2022
Nizatidine Capsules May 4, 2022
Norepinephrine Bitartrate Injection March 3, 2022
Octreotide Injection May 19, 2022
Olanzapine Intramuscular Injection March 30, 2022
Ondansetron Hydrochloride Injection April 19, 2022
Paclitaxel Protein-Bound Injection May 10, 2022
Pantoprazole Injection May 16, 2022
Phenobarbital Injection April 14, 2022
Physostigmine Salicylate Injection May 9, 2022
Polyethylene Glycol 3350 With Electrolytes May 20, 2022
Polyvinyl Alcohol (Artificial Tears) Ophthalmic Solution December 1, 2021
Posaconazole Injection April 25, 2022
Potassium Acetate Injection May 16, 2022
Potassium Chloride Injection May 9, 2022
Potassium Phosphate Injection May 16, 2022
Prednisone Oral Tablets May 15, 2022
Prochlorperazine Maleate Tablets March 14, 2022
Propofol Emulsion Injection May 9, 2022
Protamine Sulfate Injection April 25, 2022
Pyridoxine Hydrochloride Injection January 10, 2022
Rifampin Capsules May 20, 2022
Rifampin Injection May 16, 2022
Rifapentine Tablets November 17, 2021
Rocuronium Injection April 25, 2022
Ropivacaine Injection May 5, 2022
Secobarbital Capsules February 16, 2022
Semaglutide Injection April 21, 2022
Sertraline Oral Tablets March 21, 2022
Sincalide Injection March 4, 2022
Sodium Acetate Injection May 10, 2022
Sodium Bicarbonate Injection May 9, 2022
Sodium Chloride Inhalation Solution May 12, 2022
Sodium Phosphate Injection May 9, 2022
Sterile Mineral Oil March 21, 2022
Sterile Talc March 18, 2022
Sterile Water for Injection - Large Volume Bags January 26, 2022
Sterile Water for Injection - Small Volume Vials May 27, 2022
Sufentanil Injection May 4, 2022
Sulfacetamide Sodium and Prednisolone Acetate Ophthalmic Ointment March 29, 2022
Sulfasalazine Enteric-Coated and Immediate-Release Tablets March 31, 2022
Temazepam Capsules April 30, 2022
Testosterone Cypionate Injection May 4, 2022
Thiamine Injection May 4, 2022
Thrombin Topical Solution (Bovine) and Powder (Recombinant) February 23, 2022
Timolol Ophthalmic Gel Forming Solution May 4, 2022
Timolol Ophthalmic Solution May 4, 2022
Tocilizumab Injection May 19, 2022
Tramadol Tablets May 27, 2022
Triamcinolone Acetonide Intravitreal Injection May 16, 2022
Triamcinolone Hexacetonide Injection March 14, 2022
Tropicamide 1% Ophthalmic Solution March 31, 2022
Valproate Sodium Injection April 26, 2022
Valsartan and Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets May 21, 2022
Valsartan Tablets May 21, 2022
Vancomycin Hydrochloride Injection April 25, 2022
Varenicline tablets (Chantix) February 28, 2022
Vecuronium Bromide Injection May 5, 2022
Verapamil Extended-Release Tablets April 26, 2022
Vitamin A Injection April 4, 2022
Zoledronic Acid Injection May 17, 2022

Now you have some basic information to help you get started building your everyday stockpile of important medications.

  • Go through all of the medications that you currently have and dispose of outdated drugs.
  • Create a detailed list of all of the medications that your family may need and reasonable amounts for each. Be sure to include special formulations for babies and elderly members.
  • Consult your health care provider to discuss any special needs of family members. Explore the possibility of obtaining additional prescription medications for chronic conditions or stocking antibiotics for emergencies.
  • Decide where to store your medications. You may keep opened bottles in a medicine cabinet, or with first aid supplies, and the backup supplies in a cool, dry, dark, secure location.
  • Purchase a fresh supply of over-the-counter medications at your local pharmacy or online here.

How much medicine should I purchase?

For example, if you decide that you will need six bottles of Benadryl, you should purchase the six bottles for your stockpile, using a seventh bottle for current needs. Once you run out of your currently-in-use bottle of Benadryl, pull out the oldest bottle from your stockpile and begin to use it. At the same time, you should purchase a NEW bottle to place in your stockpile to make up for the bottle that you removed. This way, over time, your bottles will all have different expiration dates and will stay fresh longer in an emergency. Remember: Always use the oldest medicine first!

If you don’t use your medicines within the expired time noted on the container, go ahead and dispose of that medicine and replace with new, fresh bottles. Always try to keep bottles on hand that have several months until they are expired. This may seem like a waste, but it shouldn’t happen often, and it will keep your supply fresh and ready for emergencies.

A well-stocked medicine cabinet can come in handy and prevent last-minute trips to the store when you are not feeling well. When disaster strikes and supplies are limited, your stash of medications can be a lifesaver.

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